Sweden and Denmark push to allow commercial whaling

The governments of Denmark and Sweden are trying to pursuade EU Member States to accept a proposal in the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to allow for the commercial hunting of minke whales, as well as endangered fin and sei whales. The Annual meeting of the IWC will take place in Agadir, Morocco from 21 to 25 June.

The proposal, called the Chairs Proposal, is put forward by the IWC Chair, Cristian Maquieira of Chile and a smaller group of countries, among them notably Sweden and Denmark. The proposal would also allow for whaling in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary. The main argument for the proposal is that it would end so-called scientific whaling, bringing all catching of whales under the IWC management and supposedly decreasing the number of whales killed.

Under the new Treaty of Lisbon, EU Member States must vote with one voice in international fora such as the IWC. If they cannot reach a common position all Member States must abstain from voting.

“We think there is a window of opportunity to get Japan, Norway and Iceland into an international agreement. Today we have strong rules on paper, but in reality no control.” the Swedish minister of environment Andreas Carlgren told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of EU environment ministers in Luxembourg June 11.

Those against the proposal, including the majority of EU governments, see it as a move to reverse the 1986 moratorium and legitimise commercial whaling.

Recent allegations of questionable methods of Japan buying votes in the IWC was published on 13 June by the UK Sunday Times.

EU resists push to ease whaling ban, article from TVNZ

Decision time for whale conservation, article on BBC Online by IWC Chair Cristian Maquieira in support of proposal

Six fundamental elements for the proposed IWC consensus decision, joint position statement by Greenpeace, Pew and WWF on Chairs Proposal

The EU, champion of whalers?, op-ed by Ludwig Kramer and Sandy Luk in European Voice

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